previous next

ALIPHEIRA Arkadia, Greece.

The city farthest W in the district of Kynouraioi at the border between Arkadia and Triphylia, lying on a hill (683 m) about two hours NW of Andritsaina, near the village of Rongkozio. It was named for Aliphon or Alipheiron, one of the sons of Lykaon, the son of Pelasgos, the mythical king of Arkadia. The first evidence of it relates to the worship of Athena in the middle of the 6th c. Later, in the 4th and 3d c., the city appears to have been joined to the Arkadian League with the other Arkadian cities, and was brought into the Megalopolitan Synoecism under whose jurisdiction it remained until 244 B.C. when Lydiadas ceded it to the Eleians. After that the city began to decline from the height of prosperity it had reached ca. the beginning of the 3d c. B.C. Alipheira briefly resisted the advance of Philip V (219 B.C.). After the Macedonian king had conquered it he installed a garrison: an inscription referring to it has been found. During the 2d c. it was one of the cities of the Achaian League, but it continued to dwindle, and by Pausanias time had become “a city of no size.” Remains of the Christian period show the area was inhabited even later.

Excavations in 1932-35 uncovered the whole acropolis. The impressive fortification wall, well constructed of polygonal or rectangular blocks with towers at intervals, surrounds the steep slope of the hillside except for a part of the precipitous region which remained unwalled. Besides the circuit wall, the highest point of the hill (“the heights”) is also fortified by a wall in the shape of an irregular quadrangle. One tower is on the S side, where the entrance is; others on the W face provide greater strength and fortify the terrace where the Precinct of Athena is located. Here, on a lower level, a terrace wall which is terminated by towers supports the platform where the temple was built. The temple, which is preserved to the stylobate, probably replaced an earlier one. It was Doric, peripteral (6 x 15 columns), without pronaos or opisthodomos (dimensions at the euthynteria are 10.65 x 29.60 m). It has the characteristics of an Arkadian temple, such as N-S orientation, similar plan and height of columns, and similar tiles. Its date—ca. the end of the 6th to the beginning of the 5th c—is indicated by its definitely archaic features. Among these are the single step krepidoma with the second step serving as the stylobate, the columns with 16 flutes and with drums of irregular heights, the annulets below the neck, the elliptical guttai on the mutules of the geison, the alternating wide and narrow mutules (0.432, 0.335 m), the difference in intercolumniation between the long and short sides, the existence of angle contraction in the temple, the number of the columns, and the gorgon antefixes on the lowest cover tiles. The shape of the capitals and the triglyphs are especially indicative of a date of ca. 500-490 B.C.

Along the front of the temple were uncovered rectangular and triagonal bases belonging to dedicatory statues as well as a long altar and the end of a large inscribed statue base, apparently belonging to a colossal bronze statue of Athena, the work of the Theban sculptor Hypatodoros.

According to Pausanias, the Sanctuary of Asklepios was located on the low area to the W of the acropolis. The temple, which is a simple rectangular structure (5.75 x 9.30 m) with a pronaos in antis, has preserved on the axis of the sanctuary the cubical base of an akrelephantine statue. Directly in front of the base. two lion-footed slabs were used to support an offering table. The altar of the temple was rectangular (2.18 x 5.36 m), parallel to the front of the temple and to the E of it. The orthostates on the euthynteria are preserved, as are one of the supporting blocks on each end, which bear a painted rosette on one side and take the shape of a pediment. The altar is dated to the end of the 4th c. B.C., while the Temple of Asklepios dates ca. 300 B.C. A rectangular building to the SE of the altar with a peristyle of unfluted columns was perhaps the healing area of the Asklepieion. The trapezoidal peribolos of the sanctuary was used in places as a part of the fortification wall of Alipheira.

Remains of the city have been noted inside the fortification wall at a place forming the “suburb outside the heights,” although it has been suggested that this was a fortified strip extending to the SE of the acropolis. Building foundations have also been found on the NE side of the hill, where were the lower city and the Fountain of Tritonis (Nerositsa). Finally, the necropolis extends around the E and W skirts of the hill. Among the funerary monuments one is outstanding for its size and interest. This is a heroon with a chamber dug in the earth and rock of the hillside, intended for Sentheas (or Santheas) according to the inscription on its front. Four other heroa were found, all of them, like the first, from the Hellenistic period. Tomb 5 differs from the rest in architectural form.


A. K. Orlandos, ἁρκαδικὴ Αλίφειρα, Πελοπννησιακαὶ ἀρχαιολογικαὶ ἔρευναι, Βιβλιοθήκη τῆς ἐν Αθήναις Ἀρχαιολογικῆς Ἑταιρείας, 58 (1967-68).


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: